England, Cheshire Parish Registers and Bishops’ Transcripts (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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England, Cheshire Parish Registers, 1538-2000  and England, Cheshire Bishop's Transcripts, 1598-1900.
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CID1469935
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Cheshire,  England
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Location of Cheshire, England
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Record Description
Record Type Parish Registers and Bishop's Transcripts
Collection years 1538-2000
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
Cheshire Archives and Local Studies


What is in the Collection?

This collection includes church records from the county of Cheshire, covering the period 1538-2000.

In its most basic sense, a parish register is a record of religious ordinances performed in the Church of England. Beginning in 1538, every parish priest was required to write down certain information about every baptism (officially termed “christening” in Anglican use), marriage, and burial that took place in his parish over the course of each year. He was then supposed to bind these pages into a single volume, thereby annually producing a comprehensive history of his ministerial efforts. After 1754, a new law required that marriages be recorded in a separate book, and banns—public proclamations of a couple’s intent to marry—were to be recorded in yet another book. Starting in 1812, pre-printed registers were introduced, and separate registers were then kept for baptisms, marriages, and burials. It should also be noted that many parish records were not kept for over a decade during the Commonwealth, beginning in 1649.

Due to this long and relatively stable tradition, parish registers are central to English genealogical research as they are often one of the only sources for finding families and individuals in England before the start of civil registration in 1837.

Further information: Church of England Parish Registers

Beginning in 1598, parish priests were supposed to make a copy of their parish register and send it to send to the archdeacon or bishop every year. Termed bishop’s transcripts, these copies were generally produced in the same form as a regular parish transcript. Many priests stopped producing bishop’s transcripts with the beginning of civil registration in 1837, but they did not fully disappear until after 1870.

As bishop’s transcripts generally contain more or less the same information as parish registers, they are an invaluable resource when parish records have been damaged, destroyed, or otherwise lost. However, because bishop's transcripts are, as their name implies, copies of the original records, they are more liable contain errors than parish registers might be.

Most collections of bishops’ transcripts have been preserved, and their condition is relatively good considering the age of the records and their storage conditions over the centuries. Many collections have also been copied to microfilm or microfiche.

One of the 39 historic counties of England, Cheshire is a coastal county in northwestern England which shares its western border with Wales. For a list of the parishes which historically made up this county with links to more information about each of them, see the Cheshire Parishes page. Before 1847, Cheshire was overseen by the the Diocese of Chester, which also covered certain parishes in Lancashire. Records from some Lancashire parishes may therefore be present in the collection; it could be helpful to use the Historical Jurisdictions Map to locate pre-1851 parish boundaries.

Collection Content

The index to this collection refers to baptism, marriage, and burial records. Baptismal record entries are the most common in the index, followed by burial records, with marriage records constituting the smallest portion.

Coverage Table
The coverage table for these collections makes a detailed account of the types and locations of records contained within these collections.

What Can This Collection Tell Me?

The following lists indicate potential information given in each type of record. It must be remembered that every record may not provide all the listed information, as the procedures for keeping parish records evolved considerably over the centuries after 1538. It must also be noted that individual parishes often developed record-keeping traditions unique to themselves.

Baptismal Records may contain:
Before 1812

  • Date and place of baptism
  • Full name of child
  • Sex of child
  • Date and place of birth

Included after 1812

  • Legitimacy of child
  • Full names of parents
  • Residence of parents *Marital status of parents
  • Occupations of parents
  • Name of minister
  • Names of other relatives

Marriage Records may contain:
Before 1754

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Full names of bride and groom
  • Residences of bride and groom

Included after 1754

  • Names, ages, and occupations of witnesses

Included after 1837

  • Previous marital statuses of bride and groom
  • Occupations of bride and groom
  • Birthplaces of bride and groom
  • Ages of bride and groom
  • Full names of parents, including maiden names
  • Names of other relatives present at the marriage

Burial Records may contain:
Before 1812

  • Date and place of burial
  • Name of deceased
  • Marital status of deceased
  • Name of spouse

Included after 1812

  • Cause of death
  • Date and place of death
  • Residence of deceased
  • Age at death
  • Birthdate and place of deceased
  • Sex of deceased, esp. if infant.
  • Name of father, esp. if infant
  • Occupation of father, esp. if infant

How Do I Search the Collection?

Before beginning a search in these records, it is best to know the full name of the individual in question, as well as an approximate time range for the desired record. When entered into the search engine on either Collection Page, this information provides the quickest, most reliable path to finding the correct person. Of course, other information can be substituted as necessary.

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page:
Fill in the requested information in either initial search page to return a list of possible matches. Compare the individuals on the list with what is already known to find the correct family or person. This step may require examining multiple individuals before a match is located.

Image Visibility

Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images of digitized records available for all users. However, the rights to view images on this website are ultimately granted by the record custodians. Due to their restrictions, the records in this collection are not allowed to be displayed in any electronic format, and therefore are not available for viewing online.

For additional information about image restrictions, please see the Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections page.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking for, What Now?

  • Make sure to fully transcribe and cite the record entry for future reference. See below for assistance in citing this collection.
  • Use the information which has been discovered to find more. For instance, use the estimated age given in a marriage or burial record to calculate an approximate year of birth, if that is yet undetermined.
  • If in the appropriate period, use the information which has been discovered to find the individual in civil records. Particularly useful for research in nineteenth-century England are the England Census and Civil Registration records.
  • Continue to search the index to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives. Note that family members often appear on an individual's vital records, such as in the role of witnesses to a marriage.

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking for, What Now?

  • When looking for a person with a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which individual is correct. Use other information, such as place of birth, age, occupation, or names of parents, to determine which candidate is the correct person. If listed, a personal title may be a clue to property ownership or occupation, either of which might be noted in other records.
  • Check for variants of given names and surnames. Transcription errors could occur in any handwritten record; also, it was not uncommon for an individual be listed under a nickname or an abbreviation of their name, especially in church records. See Abbreviations Found in Genealogy Records for examples of common abbreviations. Note that some women reverted to their maiden name when their husband died, and therefore could be buried under their maiden name.
  • Vary the search terms. For example, search by either the given name or surname to return broader list of possible candidates which can then be examined for matches. Alternatively, try expanding the date range; this is especially useful in searching baptismal records, as it was not unusual for a child to be baptized weeks or even months after birth.
  • Search the records of nearby parishes. While it was uncommon for an individual in this period to move more than about 20 miles from their place of birth, smaller relocations were not uncommon. For this particular collection, this step may require finding records in the bordering English counties of Lancashire to the north, Derbyshire to the east, Staffordshire or Shropshire to the south, or in the Welsh counties of Denbighshire and Flintshire to the west. Note that marriages usually took place in the parish where the bride resided.
  • Look at the actual image of the record to verify the information found in the online description, if possible.
  • Some parish records might have been lost over time. If possible, use the Bishop's Transcripts as a substitute.
  • The individual in question may not have records in the Church of England at all, but rather might have belonged to a nonconformist denomination. See England Nonconformist Church Records for more information.

For additional help searching online collections see FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

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Don't overlook FHL Place England, Cheshire items or FHL Keyword England, Cheshire items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see England Archives and Libraries.

Known Issues with These Collections

England, Cheshire Parish Registers, 1538-2000:

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

England, Cheshire Bishop’s Transcripts 1598-1900 known issues:

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Citing this Collection

Citing sources correctly makes it easier to refer back to information that has already been discovered; proper citations are therefore indispensable to keeping track of genealogical research. Following established formulae in formatting citations also allows others to verify completed research by helping them find and examine records for themselves.

To be of use, citations must include information such as the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records, if available. The following examples demonstrate how to present this information for these collections as well as for individual records within the collections:

Parish Registers Collection Citation and Bishop Transcripts Collections Citation

"England, Cheshire Parish Registers, 1538-2000" and "England, Cheshire Bishop's Transcripts, 1598-1900." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing Church of England Record Office, Chester, England.

Parish Registers Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for England, Cheshire Parish Registers, 1538-2000.

Bishop Transcripts Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for England, Cheshire Bishop's Transcripts, 1598-1900.

How You Can Contribute

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